A blog called Leaning Wright poses a great question for readers in a recent post: why don’t more people run in local elections for public office? The lack of good candidates in political campaigns on the local level is something I notice during every election cycle, and Leaning Wright makes some good observations about the reasons:
“I think that most people are too busy trying to make a living to consider running for public office. If they live in a town that seems to be well managed they don’t notice anything wrong that makes them question how well their local government is doing its job.”
Which is a great point; the better your town is run, the less interest average citizens will probably have in running for local office to change the system.
When local government is being run effectively by diligent elected officials who do their job well, it doesn’t usually get much notice from the general public. It’s only when government starts to abuse its authority, and not fulfill its obligations to citizens, that people start paying close attention.
As an elected city official, I rarely get any contact from citizens telling me what a great job city government is doing. When a constituent calls me, it’s usually to bring my attention to a problem that needs to be solved–and I think that’s great. It’s an elected official’s job to make sure those problems get the attention they deserve, and a heads-up from an observant resident is often necessary to get the city to take notice.
So what do you think? Are people more likely to run for office in a local election if they think that government officials aren’t doing a good job? Or does efficient government actually encourage more average citizens to get involved in political campaigning?